To read this article, click here.


All is serene at the high church of human rights. Except that it isn’t.

Furthermore, HRW appears to have been mugged by the reality of the Arab Spring, switching its focus from Israel to the Arab countries since the revolutions broke out.

One would expect that HRW, advocate of transparent governance, would be eager to have its executive director respond to such accusations. It isn’t. Once the HRW media department became aware that a JC journalist was looking to put tough and awkward questions to Mr Roth, press officers scrambled into censorship mode.

In 2009, Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, went to Saudi Arabia to solicit donations from prominent members of society. According to an article in Arab News and highlighted by NGO Monitor, at the meeting Ms Whitson discussed “evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets”. Mr Roth argued that she “mentioned our work throughout the region, not just Israel, and did not solicit money to work on Israel.” He did not, however, make any comment on the language reportedly used by Ms Whitson. This was less of an interview than an exercise in denial, obfuscation and plain old censorship.